clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Arizona Cardinals officially name coaching staff

There are no surprises on this list based on what was previously reported.


With the Super Bowl over, the team's coaching staff has begun meeting and working. What does that mean? First and foremost, it means that there is a coaching staff and no longer just rumors and reports. The Arizona Cardinals formally released the names of the coaching staff that new head coach Bruce Arians put together.

There are no surprises. The team previously announced that that Harold Goodwin is the team's offensive coordinator, Todd Bowles is the defensive coordinator and that Tom Moore is assistant head coach/offense.

The rest of the staff looks like this:

Offensive staff (under Goodwin/Moore):

  • Freddie Kitchens: Quarterbacks coach
  • Stump Mitchell: Running backs coach
  • Darryl Drake: Wide receivers coach
  • Rick Christophel: tight ends coach
  • Larry Zierlein: Assistant offensive line coach
  • Kevin Garver: Offensive assistant

Defensive staff (under Bowles):

  • James Bettcher: Outside linebackers coach
  • Brentson Buckner: Defensive line coach
  • Mike Caldwell: Linebackers coach
  • Tom Pratt: Pass rush specialist
  • Nick Rapone: Defensive backs coach
  • Kevin Ross: Cornerbacks coach
  • Ryan Slowik: Defensive assistant/Assistant defensive backs coach
Special teams:
  • Amos Jones: Special teams coordinator
  • Steve Heiden: Assistant special teams/Assistant tight ends coach
Strength and conditioning: John Lott, Pete Alosi (assistant)

The only holdovers from the previous staff are Lott, Alosi, Kitchens and Slowik

You will notice there is no official offensive line coach. Arians will be the play caller. Moore, Goodwin (previously an OL coach) and Zierlein will all share duties handling the offensive line.

The total staff is 21 men. It is experienced, as between everyone on the staff there are 196 seasons of coaching experience at the college level, 191 years of NFL coaching experience and 66 years of NFL playing experience.

Here is the background of the staff, per the team's press release.

Jones joins the Cardinals after spending the past six seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, including the 2012 season as the special teams coach. He was promoted to that position last August after serving the previous five seasons as the assistant special teams coach. With the Steelers in 2009, Jones' unit helped set a team kickoff return yardage record of 1,581 yards and also had the NFL's top kick coverage unit during the 2008 season. After beginning his coaching career as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Alabama, Jones coached at Temple as the tight ends coach and defensive line coach (1983-88) under then Owls head coach Bruce Arians while also coordinating Temple's special teams. He re-joined Alabama for two seasons (1990-91) to coach the Crimson Tide's special teams before coaching at Pittsburgh (1992) as kickoff game coordinator. He also coached collegiately at Tulane (1995-96), Cincinnati (1999-2002), James Madison (2003) and Mississippi State (2004-06) in addition to working with the British Columbia Lions of the CFL in 1997. As a player at Alabama, Jones played running back under Arians, his position coach at the time. He was a member of the 1978 and '79 Tide teams that went 23-1 and earned back-to-back SEC titles, national championships and Sugar Bowl victories.

Bettcher comes to Arizona after spending 2012 as the special assistant to the head coach with the Colts. He joined Indianapolis last year after serving as linebackers/special teams coordinator at New Hampshire in 2011. He began his coaching career at his alma mater, University of St. Francis, from 2003-05 as special teams coordinator and defensive line coach. He then worked as a defensive graduate assistant at Bowling Green (2006) before serving in the same role at North Carolina (2007-09). He coached defensive ends and special teams at Ball State in 2010 before moving to New Hampshire.

Buckner played 12 seasons in the NFL with four different teams (Pittsburgh 1994-96, Cincinnati 1997, San Francisco 1998-2000, Carolina 2001-05). He played in 174 games (127 starts) in his career, totaling 426 tackles, 31 sacks, five forced fumbles, seven fumble recoveries, and two INTs. Buckner was a part of two Super Bowl teams, appearing in Super Bowl XXX with the Steelers and Super Bowl XXXVIII as a member of the Panthers. He played collegiately at Clemson (1990-93) and left ranked third in school history with 22 sacks and fourth with 46 tackles for loss. Since his playing career ended following the 2005 season, Buckner has coached in the high school ranks, including spending two years as head coach at Northside Christian Academy in his hometown of Charlotte, and has served as an intern coach with the Steelers during training camp for three years (2010-12).

Caldwell is a former Cardinals linebacker who played with the team in 1997. He comes back to Arizona after coaching linebackers with the Philadelphia Eagles the past two seasons. Caldwell is an 11-year NFL veteran who played with Cleveland (1993-95), Baltimore (1996), Arizona (1997), Philadelphia (1998-2001), Chicago (2002), and Carolina (2003). He began his coaching career with the Eagles in 2008 as a defensive quality control coach before being promoted to assistant linebackers in 2010 and then to linebackers in 2011. Caldwell played collegiately at Middle Tennessee State before becoming a third-round pick of the Browns in 1993. For his career, he played in 159 regular season games and posted 14.5 sacks and eight interceptions.

Christophel (KRIS-tuh-fell) has been the head coach at his alma mater, Austin Peay, the past six years (2007-12). He comes to the Cardinals with 32 years of collegiate coaching experience. He began his coaching career at Austin Peay as a graduate assistant in 1975 and then coached running backs there for three seasons (1979-81) before serving as the offensive coordinator at Southern Arkansas in 1982. He then made stops at Cincinnati (1983), Rice (1984-85), Vanderbilt (1986-90) and Mississippi State (1991-94), where he worked alongside Bruce Arians. Christophel then spent the next 12 years at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, serving as an assistant coach for 10 seasons (1995-2001, 04-06) and also working as assistant athletics director for two years (2002-03). As a player at Austin Peay, Christophel was a four-year starter who played safety for one season and quarterback for his final three.

Drake joins the Cardinals after coaching wide receivers with the Chicago Bears the past nine seasons (2004-12). In 2012, Drake helped WR Brandon Marshall set Chicago franchise records with 118 catches for 1,508 yards to go along with 11 TDs. Marshall finished second in the NFL in both receptions and receiving yards (Calvin Johnson). Prior to joining the Bears, Drake coached for 21 seasons at the collegiate level. He coached wide receivers at the University of Texas for six seasons (1998-2003), adding the title of associate head coach in 2003. He served as offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at Baylor (1997), and coached receivers at Georgia (1992-96) after getting his coaching start at Western Kentucky in 1983. While at Georgia, Drake tutored NFL Pro Bowler Hines Ward. He spent nine seasons at Western Kentucky, coaching wide receivers (1985-88), the secondary (1989-90) and then as passing game coordinator/quarterbacks (1991).

Garver spent the last six seasons as a member of the University of Alabama football staff. He worked with the offensive coaches during his time with the Crimson Tide, spending three seasons as a student assistant and two as a graduate assistant before working as an offensive analyst in 2012, when Alabama ranked second in the SEC and 12th nationally in scoring with 38.7 points per game. He has been on the staff of three BCS National Championship teams (2009, 2011, and 2012) and the Crimson Tide won 10 or more games in each of the last five years.

Heiden played in the NFL for 11 seasons, including eight years as a starting tight end with the Cleveland Browns (2002-09). He entered the coaching ranks last year as the tight ends coach at Concordia University, St. Paul. A third-round selection by San Diego (69thoverall) in the 1999 NFL Draft out of South Dakota State, Heiden played three seasons with the Chargers before being traded to the Browns in 2002. During his tenure in Cleveland, he started 70 of his 106 games played, catching 187 passes for 1,602 yards and 12 touchdowns. In his 11-year professional career, Heiden played in 148 games (83 starts) and had 201 catches for 1,689 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Mitchell re-joins the Cardinals after playing nine seasons (1981-89) as a running back and return specialist prior to beginning his coaching career in 1992. He returns to the Cardinals with 22 years of coaching experience at the high school, collegiate and professional levels. A ninth round selection (226th overall) by the Cardinals in the 1981 NFL Draft, Mitchell holds the franchise record with 11,988 all-purpose yards. He ranks second all-time in rushing yards (4,649), punt return yards (1,377) and kickoff return yards (4,007) and also added 1,955 career receiving yards. Mitchell's 42 career TDs are tied for the 10th best total in team annals. Following his playing days, Mitchell began his coaching career as an assistant with the San Antonio Riders of the WLAF (World League of American Football) in 1992. He then served as head coach at Casa Grande (AZ) High School (1993-94) before entering the college ranks as an assistant head coach/offensive coordinator at Morgan State (1995). He took over as head coach at Morgan State in 1996 and led the team for three seasons. Mitchell began his NFL coaching career with the Seattle Seahawks as the team's running backs coach from 1999-07. Under Mitchell's tutelage, running back Shaun Alexander was a three-time Pro Bowler and was named 2005 NFL MVP after setting a then-NFL record with 27 rushing TDs. Mitchell served as assistant head coach/running backs with the Washington Redskins in 2008-09 before working as head coach at Southern University from 2010-12.

Pratt has 34 years of NFL coaching experience and joins the Cardinals after spending the past three years working at IMG Academies as a defensive line consultant. He entered the professional coaching ranks in 1963 when he joined the AFL's Kansas City Chiefs as defensive line coach. As a member of Hall of Fame coach Hank Stram's staff, Pratt helped the Chiefs win AFL championships in 1966 and 1969 when they went on to appear in Super Bowl I and Super Bowl IV. Pratt's defensive line featured Hall of Famer Buck Buchanan and a member of the 2013 Hall of Fame Class, Curley Culp. Pratt stayed with the Chiefs through 1977, and then coached the Saints (1978-80) and Browns (1981-88) before returning to the Chiefs from 1989-94 where he coached Hall of Famer Derrick Thomas and Pro Bowlers Neil Smith and Dan Saleaumua. He coached in Tampa Bay for one season (1995) and last coached in the NFL in 2000, when he returned for a third stint with the Chiefs as assistant defensive line coach. Pratt played college football at Miami from 1953-56, and then stayed at his alma mater as an assistant coach from 1957-60 before moving on to Southern Mississippi for the next two years.

Rapone (ruh-pone) has 30 years of college coaching experience, including the last seven as defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach at the University of Delaware. In his seven seasons at Delaware, he helped the Fightin' Blue Hens reach the NCAA FCS title game in 2007 and 2010, and was named the 2010 FootballScoop NCAA Division I FCS Coordinator of the Year. Prior to his arrival at Delaware, Rapone served as an assistant with Temple (1983-88, 1999-2005), Connecticut (1995-98), and Pittsburgh (1989-92). His first stint at Temple came as a member of head coach Bruce Arians' staff, when he was secondary coach and then assumed defensive coordinator responsibilities from 1985-88. He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Pittsburgh (1979-80) before spending two years as the defensive backs coach at East Tennessee State (1981-82).

Ross has seven years of NFL coaching experience after playing in the league for 14 years. A former team captain as a player (1983) at Temple under then head coach Bruce Arians, Ross served as safeties coach with the Oakland Raiders from 2010-11. Prior to that he spent the 2009 season as an assistant with the New York Sentinels of the United Football League and worked as assistant secondary/quality control coach with San Diego from 2007-08, helping the Chargers lead the NFL with 30 interceptions in 2007. He got his start in the NFL coaching ranks as assistant secondary coach with Minnesota (2003-05), and helped the Vikings rank second in the NFL with 28 interceptions in his first year. Ross was a seventh-round pick of the Chiefs in the 1984 NFL Draft and played for three different teams (Kansas City 1983-93; 1997, Atlanta 1994-95, San Diego 1996). He earned All-Rookie honors after recording six interceptions in 1984 and was a two-time Pro Bowl selection (1989-90). He ended his playing career with 1,142 tackles and 38 interceptions.

Zierlein (ZURL-line) has 41 years of coaching experience, including eight years as an offensive line coach in the NFL. He spent three years as the offensive line coach for Pittsburgh (2007-09), where he worked under Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, after also coaching at Buffalo (2006) and Cleveland (2001-04). Zierlein spent the 2011 season as the offensive line coach for the Hartford Colonials of the UFL. Prior to his work in the NFL, Zierlein coached at the collegiate level at Cincinnati (1997-2000), two stints at Tulane (1995-96, 1988-90), LSU (1993-94), and the University of Houston (1978-86). In addition to coaching the offensive line at Cincinnati, Zierlein also served as the Bearcats running game coordinator. He began his coaching career at his alma mater, Fort Hays State College, in 1970. In 1987 he got his first professional coaching job with the Washington Commandos in the Arena League and also worked with the New York/New Jersey Knights of the World League for two seasons (1991-92).

Kitchens spent the past six seasons as the Cardinals tight ends coach. A former quarterback at Alabama, Kitchens' offensive coordinator during his senior season in 1997 was Bruce Arians. Prior to joining the Cardinals, Kitchens worked with the Dallas Cowboys (2006), Mississippi State (2004-05), North Texas (2001-03), LSU (2000), and Glenville State (1999).

Slowik joined the Cardinals staff in 2009 as defensive quality control coach and was promoted to outside linebackers coach in 2012. He previously worked with the Denver Broncos from 2005-08 and served as a defensive assistant, special teams assistant and assistant defensive backs coach.